Darlington Civic Theatre – 23 January 2015
Making full use of the atmospherics from The Woman In Black and some very muted lighting, our group of around 30 or so met in the stalls for a Ghost Hunt around the magnificent Civic building. Led by Front of House manager Andrew Hutchinson and helped along by Signor Pepe himself we were introduced to various friendly spirits said to still reside in the theatre.
While we sat in the stalls Andrew told us some history of the building and of Signor Reno Pepe, quick change artist and favourite of Queen Victoria, who owned the Civic when it was the Hippodrome and Palace of Varieties. We learnt of his wife and of their dog, a pekingese whose body was found buried in the building during a 1990’s refurbishment and whose ghost is frequently seen by children.
On the stage we got to hear about a phantom ballet dancer and Gordon the stage door manager who still rattles his keys around the building. In the dress circle we heard about seat 666 which has been found in the seated position despite the countered springs that close it. And the brave ones went to look in the side box favoured by Pepe and a popular place for sightings of him.
Up in the upper circle we split into groups, the first group went to dressing room 12 which is reportedly haunted by a child. And some of the group could hear quite clearly a child playing and a strong alcoholic smell. The other group visited the Flyfloor and said “Hello” to Jimmy the Flyman who is said to still like to keep an eye on his ropes. The groups then swapped so they could experience all there was to see and hear and do.
All too soon the tour was over. And we had to say goodbye to the ghost and the Civic. A huge big THANK YOU to Andrew and the staff who helped to make this ghost tour so thoroughly enjoyable